Integrating Theory and Research: Starting With Questions
Don W. Stacks Michael B. Salwen University of Miami
Toward the end of their academic careers, most graduate students are required to demonstrate their ability to integrate theory and research methodology in their field of study by completing a project, thesis, or dissertation. Students of communication, particularly those concentrating on mass communication, have been so inculcated with the practice and application of their field that they often find this task daunting--and sometimes irrelevant.
This is a perhaps understandable reaction to theory (the rationale we extend to understand the world around us) and research (ways to test or make sense of that rationale from either quantitative or qualitative approaches) from those whose lifetimes involved a certain respect for "common sense." But as Albert Einstein ( 1960) warned against a blind reliance on common sense:
Conclusions obtained by purely rational processes are, so far as reality is concerned, entirely empty. It is because he recognized this, and especially because he impressed it upon the scientific world, that Galileo became the father of modern physics and in fact of the whole modern natural science. (p. 81)